From making donations and buying gift cards, to supporting films with online rentals, here's what you can do to help the industry...
The recent coronavirus pandemic has shaken the world to its very core. Most industries have taken a huge financial hit, throwing the livelihoods of so many into uncertain territories. As far as cinemas are concerned, most have closed their doors following the UK government's safety advice.
Here at WeLoveCinema, promoting and celebrating cinema in London is our reason for existing. Which means we want to actively encourage movie lovers do everything they can to help out their favourite filmic venues, writers, and organisations during this troubling period.
Whether you're a casual film fan or a dedicated member of the film-going community, there are lots of things you can do to support both independent cinemas and your local chain, not to mention the film websites who rely on you reading their content to survive. Here we've put together a list of just a few ways you can help to secure the future of our most beloved art form…
1. Refuse Your Refund
Most cinemas are currently in the process of dealing with the frankly overwhelming number of refunds for the thousands of screenings that won't be happening anytime soon. In many cases, these refunds will happen automatically. In some cases, you'll have to ask the cinema directly for your money back. If you can afford it, though, perhaps consider not bothering. Your gesture of good will basically acts as a donation; any cinema is bound to appreciate that right now.
2. Buy a Cinema Gift Card
The likelihood is that you won't be able to make use of a gift card at the moment, because most cinemas aren't open. But that doesn't mean you can't just go ahead and purchase one anyway, either for yourself or for a friend. You'll be helping the cinema out – the ArtHouse Crouch End, for example – whilst they're having to issue refunds. And chances are that you'll eventually get to use the gift card, so there's nothing to lose. Think of it as a downpayment on a future cinematic experience.
3. Become a Member
Chains like Picturehouse and Curzon offer yearly memberships, which are still available for purchase despite the closures. The BFI also offers a yearly membership. Pretty much every independent cinema offers a unique membership service of their own, too, like the Prince Charles Cinema, Genesis Cinema, Lexi Cinema, and Regent Street Cinema. Some of these give you priority access to early screenings, special events, or one-off Q&As with filmmakers. Others give you discount on food and ticket prices. Everyone's different.
If you're already a member of a cinema where you pay on a month-by-month basis, consider keeping your membership active to help cinemas as they try to get back on their feet.
4. Subscribe to a Streaming Service
The BFI and Curzon operate their own online streaming services, which offer tons of great movies, both classic and contemporary. The BFI's brilliant BFI Player, which has hundreds of fantastic movies, costs just £4.99 per month. Meanwhile, Curzon's own membership service, which costs £65, offers a multitude of in-house benefits such as free tickets and discounts, but also grants you access to an online viewing library of rolling titles – perfect for these self-isolating times!
5. Rent or Buy a Movie on VOD
When you rent or buy a movie, you're supporting the industry at large. Since the majority of new releases are no longer showing in theatres, renting or buying movies (especially those of the indie variety) is massively important. Several smaller films, like And Then We Danced and The Truth, have migrated from theatrical releases to VOD instead. Hollywood studios like Universal have decided to make a selection of newer releases, many of which were still playing in cinemas a few days ago – The Invisible Man, The Hunt, and Emma among them – available on demand.
6. Buy Some Merchandise
Another simple way to help out your favourite cinema is to check their website to see whether they have a merchandise section. The Rio Cinema in Dalston has a lovely online store, for example, where you can buy artwork, jewellery, and some very jazzy t-shirts. Same goes for the Phoenix Cinema, where their online shop carries everything from clothing to bags, magnets, books, and mugs. You're going to be drinking a lot of tea: buy a mug.
7. Read and Share Online Content
It goes without saying, but we'll say it anyway: support online writers and film websites by visiting websites, reading reviews and features, and sharing film content through social media platforms. At this time, lots of freelance writers will struggle to find work and websites based around the entertainment industry will have less and less content to write about. As a community, we need to do our best to keep these sites alive. Traffic is always appreciated.
8. Visit the Cinemas Religiously When They Reopen
Cinema-going is something that we all take for granted. It's easy to view it as something constant and reliable, no chance of it suddenly disappearing overnight without warning. But we now know this simply isn't true. One day the cinemas will reopen, however, and it's then that they'll be at their most vulnerable. It's up to those who can afford it to support the cinemas when they reopen their doors. That obviously doesn't mean going to the cinema every single day, or spending money we don't have, but making the effort to attend an extra showing every now and again will go a long, long way.